5 tips every first time marathon runner needs to know

Marathon tips for beginner runners

I thought I would give you 5 tips on what you need to think about/ prepare as you start your training program. This is very important because you need to break your training down into manageable blocks.

Written by Tom Bedford

Tom has had running in his blood since the age of 12. He boasts not only the family marathon record (2.19.30) but also the high jump (1m79). He’s coached hundreds of runners of varying ability levels over all distances backed up by his 15 years of road running experience, and now he’s here to help you.


Identify your goals but do not lock them in!

If you are a beginner you may not understand your ability, your fitness and your selected running event. So, for now you may not have a specific goal (unless it is ‘I just want to finish!’). Many people predict times on what other people achieve (i.e. a work colleague or family friend). My advice is to leave your predictions for now and just focus on getting stuck in (gradually) to your training. You will be able to reassess your goal as you gain more experience.

For the more experienced runners try and identify what time you would like and ask yourself if that goal is achievable. Look back at your previous best and break down your training into separate parts. Look at what mistakes you made and what worked well. Was your diet good? Did you do enough long runs? How organised was your training week? Be harsh on your previous attempts and make a New Year’s resolution to improve your weak areas. 

Woman running

Be realistic but also commit!

How much time can you realistically commit to your target. Being committed 100% at the start is great, but remember training is a marathon and not a sprint!

You need to be committed for the whole program and not dip in and out of it like a gym membership. My coach always told me to run when you can run because you will always have days when you cannot run and wish you had! This includes running when you do not have any injuries, but 'just don’t feel like it'. Bad weather is a perfect example. There are some nights when it is dangerous to go out. Being on top of your training will mean you have some flexibility when something comes up.

Let’s not make out this is a complete life changing moment. All I am asking from you is a 12-week commitment to training and diet. Remember, you can always make up for it in the other 40 weeks!

Share the pain with others!

My next tip is to try and find someone you can run with early on. Running on your own in horrible weather can be hell, so why not share this pain with someone else! Find a running friend or even better go find a friendly running club.

Plan ahead with your races

This tip might be a bit too late for some events, but there are so many events out there for you to do. Entering a race a decent amount of time prior to marathon day is great because it gives you a mini target that will boost your motivation. What will be your half marathon or longer run/race? Book now!

Diet and hydration

Do some basic research into your diet. This is not only important for performance, but also recovery!

Try to eat some carbs before your long runs, have a protein filled meal after your run and you’re your breakfasts simple. Stay away from gels during long runs for the next month. Energy drinks have LOTS OF CALORIES, so drink in moderation and look at an alternative (i.e. Ribena drink).

Over the years I have written many blogs on the basics so look through these and you will get some tips of what to eat before, during and after your runs. A good example would can be found in this long run fuel blog post. I have kept this simple because I am simple!

Good running!

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